To Be Retired In Jacksonville

For years we have helped retirees find their perfect retirement home in Jacksonville. It’s very enjoyable seeing their excitement as we tell them all about Jacksonville and Southern Oregon. Most of them have come from out of state so there is lots of education that goes on. From home prices, cost of living, weather, outdoor activities, theaters, restaurants, music scene, shopping, wineries, and culture; there can be lots to learn and lots of differences from the areas they are moving from.

This education has worked both ways as we have learned a lot from our retiring clients. We have seen a lot of smart planning, with some of our clients buying homes in Jacksonville years before they retire. They have us manage their retirement home as a rental home, giving them a yearly passive income until they are ready. When they do retire, they do so in a home that has appreciated in value and may be way beyond what they might currently spend for a retirement home. We have also seen retirees do a 1031 exchange from a rental property they own out of state to their future retirement home in Jacksonville giving them tax advantages.

We have also seen, from our newly retired clients, what a retired lifestyle looks like living in Jacksonville. One of my favorite stories is a day I walked into South Stage Cellars at two in the afternoon to pick up my credit cards I had inadvertently left the night before. As I entered the tasting room, I was greeted by four of my newly retired clients, all at the bar wine tasting. They quickly offered me a seat but I had to decline, telling them I had three more appointments to attend. It must be nice to be retired.

Just recently we had family visit us for a week and we decided to have a staycation and pretend we were retired without worries and with less responsibility. As it turned out, it might have been one of our best vacations. The first day started without the alarm going off and we wandered down the street to Good Bean for breakfast. There you could see tables of retired men and women, in what look liked a weekly gathering, catching up with each other. After breakfast we took our visitors on a tour of downtown, stopping at each eclectic store, buying gifts and gadgets you’ll never see in malls. Soon lunch came and we found ourselves in the sun on the back porch of Bella meeting up with the rest of our family. That evening we hiked up the hill to see The Little River Band at Britt, from our seats in front of the stage. It was a great concert, and I could only think of how lucky we are to live in a great town that just happens to have an amphitheater that attracts some of the best live music and comedy acts I have seen.

The next day involved an early morning hike in the Jacksonville woodlands, breakfast at Mustard seed, lunch outside at Jacksonville Inn and then on to wine tasting at South Stage Cellars. That evening we headed out to Red Lily to picnic on the Applegate River, hear live music and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. We even watched a river otter swim up stream.

On the third day we woke up late, took a trolley ride around Jacksonville then headed to DANCIN for a great meal, great views and some great Pinot Noir. After that, we took our grandkids for ice cream under the La Fiesta restaurant. The kids were more enamored by the spoons that changed colors as they got cold than they were by the ice cream. For the adults, we were just grateful to hang out with the kids as an excuse to enjoy ice cream. After an afternoon nap we had a big BBQ at home for our guests and all of our family, then sat in our front yard and watched the energy build as 2000+ concert goers ascended up the hill to that evening’s concert. The evening was topped off when Jacksonville came alive with those 2000+ somewhat inebriated concert goers descending down the hill, many staying to enjoy the local restaurants, pubs and bars.

The staycation could have ended here, but on the fourth day, we headed up to Lake of the Woods for three more days. We swam, kayaked, boated, BBQed, hiked, roasted smores on the fire and reveled in the smells and sights of the high mountains. We even took a drive to Crater Lake, ending up at the historic lodge for lunch then sitting on the rocking chairs overlooking the lake.

We headed back to Jacksonville for the last day of our pretend retirement. We hung out at Daisy Creek Vineyards, listened to live music and talked about not what we did, but what we didn’t do. There wasn’t enough time to raft or Jet boat the Rogue River, go wine tasting in the Applegate Valley, see a play at OSF, go to a dinner show at the Cabaret, drive to the Redwoods or try the Jacksonville Segway tour.

The week went by too quickly, and when we dropped our relatives off at the airport, they vowed to do this again next year – another staycation in Jacksonville pretending we are retired. As we drove back into town, we realized Jacksonville is not a town, it’s an experience.

The Law of Averages

Every month I read the real estate sales statistics in the Mail Tribune that are provided to them by the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors. All the numbers are averages, or medians, calculated for the last 90 days.  Overall, they are reporting a seller’s market which means limited inventory for buyers and homes selling in 60 days at 96.9% of the asking price. This is true for a lot of home sellers, but not so for many others. The problem with using averages is that most homes are above or below the average. Price point and location are the two greatest factors in real estate and they determine how quickly your home may sell and for what percentage of the asking price.  Looking at the chart below, you can see how it is a seller’s market until you get into $700,000 + priced homes then it starts to become a buyer’s market with over 6 months of inventory.  While the average months’ supply of inventory may be 2.2 months, it’s more than 12 months for homes priced over $2,000,000. You can see how the price point of the property determines if it’s a buyers or sellers’ market.

Price point determines days on the market, % of asking price sellers receive, and how long it will take to sell.  However, there is another factor, and that is LOCATION. If we redid the chart above and added price per location, it gets more complicated. A $700,000 home in Butte Falls or Shady Cove will take much longer to sell than a $700,000 home in Jacksonville or Ashland. So, if you’re selling and you really want to know how long it will take and what you’re likely to end up making, don’t look at averages.  Instead, ask your Realtor to calculate the numbers based on your specific price point in your specific location and you’ll know exactly what the road ahead will look like.

6 Ways to Lower Your Tax Rate by Owning Rental Property

If you just finalized your 2018 Tax Return and you’re now focused on how to “legally” lower your tax rate for 2019, you should read on. There are lots of tax benefits of being a landlord, most all expenses are tax deductible, from finding tenants to fixing faucets. The benefits of cash flow and tax deductions can make owning rental properties worthwhile. 

1. Tax Deductions for Landlords
Many rental home expenses are tax deductible. Save receipts and any other documentation, and take the deductions on Schedule E. Figure you’ll spend four hours a week, on average, maintaining a rental property, including record keeping.
 
In general, you can claim the deductions for the year in which you pay for these common rental property expenses:
 
•Advertising
•Cleaning and maintenance
•Commissions paid to rental agents
•Homeowner association/condo dues
•Insurance premiums
•Legal fees, Accountant fees, Property Manager Fees
•Mortgage interest
•Taxes, including property taxes
•Utilities

2. Travel Expense Deductions
You can deduct expenses for local travel to a rental home for activities such as showing it, collecting rent, or doing maintenance. If you use your own car, you can claim the standard mileage rate, which is 54.5 cents per mile, plus tolls and parking.
Traveling outside your local area to a rental home is another matter. You can write off the expenses if the purpose of the trip is to collect rent or, in the words of the IRS, “manage, conserve, or maintain” the property. If you mix business with pleasure during the trip, you can only deduct the portion of expenses that directly relates to rental activities.

3. Repairs and Improvement Deduction
Another grey area is repairs vs. improvements. The tax code lets you immediately write off repairs (any fixes that keep your property in working conditions) as you would other expenses. The costs of improvements that add value to a rental property or extend its life must instead be depreciated over several years.
Think of it this way: Simply replacing a broken window pane counts as a repair, but replacing all of the windows in your rental home counts as an improvement.

4. Depreciation
Depreciation refers to the value of property that’s lost over time due to wear, tear, and obsolescence. In the case of improvements to a rental home, you can deduct a portion of that lost value every year over a set number of years. In general, you depreciate the value of the home itself (but not the portion of the cost attributable to land) over 27.5 years. You’ll have to stop depreciating once you recover your cost or you stop renting out the home, whichever comes first.
Depreciation is a huge tax benefit, but the calculations can be tricky. Read IRS Publication 946, “How to Depreciate Property” for additional information.

5. Profits and Losses on Rental Homes
The rent you collect from your tenant every month counts as income. You offset that income and lower your tax bill by deducting your rental home expenses including depreciation. If, for example, you received $9,600 in rent during the year and had expenses of $4,200, then your taxable rental income would be $5,400 ($9,600 in rent minus $4,200 in expenses).
You can even write off a net loss on a rental home as long as you meet income requirements, own at least 10% of the property, and actively participate in the rental of the home. Active participation in a rental is as simple as placing ads, setting rents, or screening prospective tenants.
If your modified adjusted gross income (same as adjusted gross income for most persons) is $100,000 or less, you can deduct up to $25,000 in rental losses. The deduction for losses gradually phases out between income of $100,000 and $150,000. You may be able to carry forward excess losses to future years.
Let’s say that for the year rental receipts are $12,000 and expenses total $15,000, resulting in a $3,000 loss. If your modified adjusted gross income is below $100,000, you can deduct the full $3,000 loss. If you’re in a 22% tax bracket, a $3,000 loss reduces your tax bill by $660, plus any applicable state income taxes.

6. Tax Rules for Vacation Homes
If you have a vacation home that’s mostly reserved for personal use but rented out for up to 14 days a year, you won’t have to pay taxes on the rental income. Some expenses are deductible, though the personal use of the home limits deductions. The tax picture gets more complicated when, in the same year, you make personal use of your vacation home and rent it out for more than 14 days.
 
Being a landlord is not for everyone, but those who want a passive income stream, with lots of tax write offs, will prosper.

The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly

The Southern Oregon real estate market has seen some bumps and bruises since the west coast erupted in fires last summer. We began this year with a very slow and weak market and then it exploded.  Here is a quick review of the Good, Bad and Ugly that has been our real estate market since last summer.

The Ugly
We began last year with our real estate market reaching a record number of home sales at record prices.  It was a sellers’ market with few homes for buyers to choose from and prices were increasing at a rapid pace. All was good until the west coast erupted in flames, closing Interstate 5 over and over, burning the Northern California towns of Redding, Paradise, Dunsmuir, and Hornbook and pouring smoke into our valley. Although we were fortunate to have few homeowners lose their homes in Southern Oregon, all the fires did take a toll on our home sales.
 
The Bad
Home sales slowed drastically after all the fires broke out causing home sales in both the last quarter of 2018, and the first quarter of 2019, to decline. Home prices, however, continued to climb; that is, until the first quarter of 2019 where Jackson County saw no increase in the median price of homes that resold.  This is the first time since 2008 that we have seen a quarter go by with no increase in home prices.  All of a sudden, this was getting concerning.
 
The Good
It happed in March – retirees, escapees and refugees from Paradise, combined with first time home buyers, caused a large upswing in our real estate market. Many sellers put their homes on the market early this year to beat any possibility of summer smoke and found they were met by an army of awaiting buyers that greeted the expanding home selection with glee. It’s impossible to know exactly how much this upswing will increase our overall market, but we’re off to a great start. Pending sales as of March 31st were up 14% in Jackson County and up 18% in Josephine County; those are big percentages for a real estate market.
 
Spring looks to be healthy for our market with the decline in interest rates, back down to 4%, and an increasing number of refugees relocating here that were once retired in Paradise, CA. On the rural property front, we’re seeing high demand for large irrigated parcels, 30 acres or more, to fulfill the growing demand for Hemp production and the oils produced from the Hemp flower.  We’re seeing a higher amount of listings come on the market for sale which is helping satisfy all the buyers waiting in the wings for the right property.
 
This year Jacksonville, unlike the rest of Jackson County, has seen their median home price sky rocket, making Jacksonville the most expensive city to live in Southern Oregon. You could see this coming after years of slow gentrification of older eclectic homes and countless publications naming Jacksonville as one of the nicest small towns to live in.   It is truly a magical town to live in and as the Jacksonville Review used to say, “A small town with a big atmosphere”.
 
So, its looks like spring will bring good news to our real estate market and the bad news is behind us and let’s hope we avoid the ugly news.

– Graham Farran